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Group pledges to protect digital content

A coalition of technology company heavyweights and consumer groups have called for the US government to stay away from mandating anti-copying schemes on computers.

The Alliance for Digital Progress (ADP), a lobbying group made up of 27 technology companies, consumer groups and think tanks, was set up in a response to calls from the Motion Picture Association of America for copy protection measures from the US Congress.

Among the members of ADP are technology companies Microsoft, Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard and Apple Computer; and consumer groups Consumer Alert, DigitalConsumer.org, and 60 Plus Association.

ADP president Frederick McClure said the ADP would fight government copy-protection mandates, but he endorsed private-sector methods of solving what he called a "problem with digital piracy".

"We oppose efforts by Hollywood to use the government to design anti-copying technology and require all digital devices to be built using that technology," said McClure, a former legislative advisor. "But make no mistake, the organisations here today also are committed to protecting digital content."

On 14 January, the Recording Industry of America joined two major technology associations in also calling for Congress to stay away from copy-protection mandates. The Business Software Alliance and the Computer Systems Policy Project are also part of the Alliance for Digital Progress.

It was made clear the coalition would target any reintroduction of the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act, which mandated copy-control technology on all digital devices.

"It is clear to us there is no easy answer, there is no one-size-fits-all solution," McClure said. "Yet, that is exactly what Hollywood is asking Congress to do. They're asking lawmakers to design a technology solution to the problem, and then force companies to use that technology in every one of their products."

McClure argues that private companies could create better copy protection than the government, and he used the example of the DVD as a fast growing product that came from consumer demand and partnerships between the technology and entertainment industries.

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